Hendrick Terbrugghen, The Calling of St. Matthew, 1621
Hendrick Terbrugghen, The Calling of St. Matthew, 1621

Tonight I was reading Matthew 9 and the imagery of vv. 9-10 grabbed my attention like never before. In vv. 1-8 Jesus has forgiven a paralytic man for his sins. His opponents can’t believe the audacity of a man who claims to forgive sins, so Jesus challenges them by healing the man and asking whether it is easier to tell someone  that their sins are forgiven or to heal their body. In v. 9 it says, “As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.” How great is the picture by Terbrugghen (on the right hand side of this post). Jesus points at Matthew, a tax collector, telling Matthew to follow him. Matthew double checks with Jesus: you mean me?

What I greatly enjoy about Matthew 9:9-10 is the scenic transition. It moves from Jesus calling Matthew who is sitting and doing his job to a meal in a house and voilà! the house if full of tax collectors and other “sinners” dining with Jesus.

The narrator doesn’t tell us what happened between Jesus calling Matthew and this dinner party. It doesn’t matter. Jesus calls a despised tax collector to be his disciple and suddenly the Kingdom is embodied in a meal of sinners.

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